01 December 2006

Melon Pattern Stole, in progress

Thread in balls just isn't nearly as photogenic as yarn.


(Flora 50 crochet cotton earmarked for my next small doily.)

Fortunately on the blog eye-candy front, I couldn't resist casting on a mohair shawl from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby (XRX Books).


I chose the Melon Pattern Stole (which happens to be the piece featured on the book's cover) because I wanted to have a take-along lace project with a stitch pattern simple enough to memorize. Melon is started on an invisble cast on (note my red-orange waste yarn); the small lace pattern is knit back and forth until the desired length of the stole, then a lace edging is applied all the way around the rectangle. There are no bound off stitches anywhere. Several other patterns in VLT are of this variety: all-over lace patterned rectangle + small lace edging around. I'm sure there are many knitters who could probably design stoles of a similar type easily with the aid of a stitch pattern book, and VLT actually has a short guide to designing your own. However, the advantage of following a pattern straight out of VLT is that each pattern is already carefully planned to ensure that the lace edgings fit around the shawls exactly and includes step-by-step instructions to get the edgings to work out with little to no calculations required.


The "melon stitch" itself is partly created by a yarn over at each side of the three stitches that are wrapped/pinched. The wrapping part is made from slipping stitches over other stitches from left to right and off of the left needle (in contrast, the more usual "pass slipped stitch over" move in decreases occurs right to left off the right needle). (The above close-up picture shows the piece as it is currently on my needles and totally not blocked or pinned out.)

In laceweight kid mohair, you can't really tell that a total of three stitches are slipped over each time—the wrapping stitches compress like a tiny knot. I'm a little curious about what melon stitch would look like in a thicker yarn.


The yarn I'm using is Elann Super Kydd, one of Elann.com's exclusives. Like several other laceweight 70-80% kid mohair and 20-30% nylon blends on the market, it's clearly intended to be a poor knitter's Rowan Kidsilk Haze or K1C2 Douceur et Soie (which are both 70% kid mohair, 30% silk). I have to say, having used the more expensive yarns, Super Kydd compares very favorably. It lacks the slight sheen of real silk at the core, but the kid mohair is just as soft and lofty (and just as hard to deal with when frogging, of course). And it costs only about a third of what Kidsilk Haze does these days, making it perfect for stocking up to knit the many pieces in VLT designed with laceweight kid mohair in mind. I hope it comes out in more colors eventually.

I'm using 4.5 mm (US 7) needles, which happens to be the needle size recommended in VLT for all patterns using laceweight kid mohair. Well, especially after knitting doilies on 2 mm and 1.5 mm needles, of course I think my stitches here are really, really loose and huge. I'm sticking with this needle size for this project, but we'll see how much I like the super-open look when all is finished and blocked. The stitch gauge also means that the stole is growing pretty quickly, though, so hopefully it won't be long until I'm done.

A little bit more about the book


This book is lavishly photographed and just a beautiful publication overall. There are several larger triangular or round shawls and many rectangular scarves/stoles with various types of construction. The rectangular pieces use stitch patterns that are easy to memorize or require only small charts to take along. By comparison, the shawls in A Gathering of Lace are generally much more complex with lace patterning that requires multiple huge charts. If you only like to knit the really mind-blowing stuff like Shetland shawls, Victorian Lace Today might disappoint you. But, if you are a relative novice at lace knitting, or if you just like having simpler projects in progress in addition to the complicated stuff, Victorian Lace Today is a very nice book to have.

65 comments:

betzig said...

Followed the like fromthe VLT knitalong--I like the info on Elann Super Kydd. Given your review, I think I might stock up for at least one of the projects. I really do like that pink color.

alice said...

You have such a lovely and informative blog! I'm glad to have found it. :) Your stole is looking beautiful and I love your doilies!

Karen said...

Well-written review of the VL book! and good blog overall.

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